Late push made for Derby

Xchanger, Slew's Tizzy in running as possible entrants on May 5

Horse racing

April 23, 2007|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Sun reporter

The Kentucky Derby prep season has come to a close, but the race to get into the May 5 classic in Louisville is still ongoing as two more horses, Xchanger and Slew's Tizzy, put themselves into the mix with big victories Saturday.

Xchanger, who has $202,890 in graded earnings, finally ran the race trainer Mark Shuman believed he was capable of and won the $125,000 Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in a romp.

"I didn't think I was crazy," he said after Xchanger's 4 3/4 -length victory. "But I had to stop making excuses for him. Now, this is going to be a very tough week [deciding on whether to go to the Derby]."

And at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., trainer Greg Fox was delighted that his horse Slew's Tizzy won the Grade II, $325,000 Lexington Stakes, but didn't seem immediately overjoyed about making a decision on the Derby.

Slew's Tizzy stumbled and lost his rider in the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans earlier this season and nearly knocked Circular Quay, a horse on nearly all top 10 pre-Derby lists, from the Derby picture.

"Our philosophy is we don't run horses back in two weeks," said Fox, indicating that he and Slew's Tizzy's owner Joe LaCombe were not inclined to take the plunge.

But the chance to run in the Kentucky Derby is a horseman's dream of a lifetime. It can change how people think. You can bet there will be debate this week given that Slew's Tizzy earned $201,500 Saturday, more than enough to get into the 20-horse Derby field, which gives preference to horses with the most graded stakes earnings when more than 20 want to enter.

It's also a good bet people associated with Teuflesberg and Chelokee, who are on the bubble, and Delightful Kiss and Starbase, who are further down the rankings, but whose handlers have made it clear they'd go to the big race given the chance, will be paying close attention.

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